Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: Iconic Spirits by Mark Spivak

An Intoxicating History

By: Mark Spivak

Published: November 6, 2012


From the epidemic of gin consumption that almost brought down the British empire, to Gaspare Campari toiling away in his workshop to infuse sixty herbs, spices, barks, and fruit peels into a mixture of alcohol and distilled water, to Sidney Frank waking up one morning and deciding to create the world's best vodka, our global economy and culture have been profoundly affected by the spirits that I have designated here as "iconic." Legislation was passed, moral crusades were launched and carried out, and the nature of society was altered.  It hardly seems possible over a few shots of booze, but the twelve spirits featured in this book became the catalysts for change in governments and our way of life.  They became the vehicles for creating the world in which we currently live.  - Mark Spivak 

This review is part of the book tour with  ICONIC SPIRITS is not my usual type of book, but the history of spirits and their creators intrigued me.  My husband has been having fun creating cocktails and trying out different drinks and I thought this book would appeal to both of us.  The cocktail culture has exploded over the last several years with restaurants selling high dollar cocktails and drink menus pages long.    Men and women are putting bars in their homes and making their own wines and beer.  The cocktail culture is strong and growing. 

I have to admit that some of the spirits mentioned in the book were ones I had never heard of.  But the evolution of how drinks were made was quite interesting.  Having toured wineries in California, I am familiar with the distilling process and was surprised at the levels of flavors and length of time some of the spirits need to evolve before being bottled.  Patience is definitely a virtue with a lot of these businessmen.  

Nearly each one of the creators came from meager beginnings and just had an idea. Each of them had a strong determination to make their dream a reality and fought through prohibition, wars, bad economies, and clearly came out ahead...most living as millionaires.

I think my favorite story came from Jean Paul DeJoria. In 2010, he was 66th on the list of Forbes 400th wealthiest Americans.  DeJoria is the cofounder of John Paul Mitchell Systems (hair care products) and surprisingly, also of Patron Tequila. He grew up in a foster home, joined the Navy, became homeless and was a single dad.  He sold Coke bottles to buy food and eventually got a job at Redken Laboratories.  That led him and a friend to create John Paul Mitchell Systems.  Then one day, drinking with another friend, he was given tequila in beautiful hand blown bottles from Mexico.  That sparked an idea that has since rocketed to the high-end tequila we know today.  But, the best part of this story is DeJoria's philanthropy.  His motto is "Success unshared is failure". He is extremely committed to helping others including Boys and Girls Club of America, Mine Seekers, those suffering from MS, cancer, diabetes, leukemia, and autism, and providing food for children with AIDS in Africa to name a few.  His most impressive charity is one he started in 2009 called Grow Applachia, an organization that teaches families how to grow their own food by distributing seeds and equipment and then teaches them how to use their crop to feed their families as well as their communities.  DeJoria is living the American dream and helping others to live it as well.  

Each chapter features one spirit and then ends with recipes using the featured spirit.  I know my husband and I will enjoy going through the recipes and trying them out.  I think first on my list will be a Tequila Sunrise made with Patron Tequila. 

If you are a history buff or like true stories of self-made businessmen, this is the book for you.  If you are curious about how some of your favorite spirits are made, the distilling processes of some of the spirits were quite surprising.  With each chapter being a stand alone, this is a book that can be read quickly or at your leisure.  Or, you can just go straight to the recipes!  As Spivak states, "These are the best kinds of stories. They are the kind a writer could never make up."

Mark Spivak
photo courtesy of
Mark Spivak is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants, and culinary travel. Since 2001, he has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group. His work has appeared in National Geographic TravelerRobb ReportArt & Antiques, and Newsmax. From 1999-2011 he hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

For more on ICONIC SPIRITS or the author check out

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review: Becoming the Confident Mom You've Always Wanted to Be By Susan Heid


31 Strategies to Improve Your Confidence as a Woman, Mother, and Family Manager.

By:  Susan Heid

Published:  January 3, 2013


How many times have you felt something is lacking in your family life? You just can’t keep up with the daily demands of managing a household, your priorities aren’t on target, you never have time for yourself, and you wonder why you can’t be more like the “super mom” next door that always seems to have her act together. You’re feeling “less than,” and it’s negatively impacting your family.

Being a mom and family manager is a difficult and demanding job—one that often leaves moms questioning their decisions and abilities, ultimately lowering their self-confidence. But one must lead with confidence to earn respect and ensure that family values are not compromised by the many distractions a family might confront. 

In her book, Become the Confident Mom You’ve Always Wanted to Be: 31 Strategies to Improve Your Confidence as a Woman, Mother, and Family Manager, author and parent coach Susan Heid explains how using these 31 essential strategies can help you guide your family with love, faith, a positive outlook, and confidence. This will help you achieve a more fulfilling family atmosphere and prepare your children to positively maneuver through life’s many opportunities and challenges.

As a huge fan of Susan Heid, I couldn't wait to read her book.  Susan, for me, has been the calm in the storm, the light bulb, and the reassuring friend that every mom needs.  Even though we have never met, her products have supported me through the chaotic days of motherhood.  Her book is just another layer of that support.  

Even though I have been a mom for nearly 13 years,  I still need reassurance and support in the daily joys and struggles of parenting.  I can still learn new ways to parent and handle situations because each of our children are different and need parenting and support in different ways.  Our children are growing and changing and trying my patience in all kinds of new ways.  

One of my favorite tips from the book was from the strategy, HAVE A PLAN/DIRECTION.  As a planner, I expected this chapter to be a no-brainer, until I read this statement:  Be deliberate in the choices you make for your and your kids. Frequently, I make unpopular choices for our kids.  I don't let them watch the same movies that their friends have watched.  The kids still have bedtimes and are required to do chores.  Even though I am frequently met with frustration, I am reminded to be deliberate in my choices for my family.  I know why I have these limitations and expectations for our children and am confident that some day they will thank me. Then further on in the book, this again was reinforced for me:  You know what is right for you and your family, so it is up to you to do it and make the right decisions without continuing to doubt or question your ability.  This doesn't mean I can't get advice or support from other moms, but it does remind me that parenting isn't a competition but a responsibility.  

There were so many other excellent reminders, reassurances, and tips in this book, that I could go on and on.  This book reads much like a daily devotional.  With 31 chapters, you can read one chapter a day, pausing to think about each strategy, or read it all in one sitting.  Each chapter ends with a Bible verse and questions to get your mind working, so it may work best to read it with time for reflection, maybe even with a journal to write down your thoughts, plans, and feelings.  

This book is currently available as a Kindle eBook, but even if you don't have an eReader, you can still download it to your computer.  It is completely worth the $3.99 and I highly recommend this book if you are hoping to be a mom, pregnant for the first time, or have been a mom for awhile.  The tips and support Susan Heid offers can help all of us.

photo courtesy of
Susan Heid isn't a "perfect mom" and juggles life with a blended family of four kids, living with lupus, a husband who travels for work, and being foster parents.  She is passionately committed to helping Christian moms make small intentional changes managing their home and giving them more time, less stress, and stronger family relationships.  Her website THE CONFIDENT MOM offers support and products to help women live a more balanced life.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Little Monday Inspiration

Do not fear going forward slowly: fear only to stand still.

Chinese Proverb

I've been frustrated with the slow movement of the scale.  I feel like I've been eating better and running harder and yet the scale isn't moving.  This quote spoke to me this morning and maybe it will help you too.

Keep moving forward!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

One Thousand of My Gifts

photo courtesy of Ann Voskamp of

Continuing my count of one thousand gifts, numbering each one.

20. Finding a new Pandora station to love- Piano music by Yiruma
21. Hearing Canon in D with ocean sounds
22. Lunch with a friend
23. Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup
24. Beauty of an Amaryllis on a dreary day
25. Lunch with my husband at "our place"

Friday, January 25, 2013

Get Moving with Claritin - Workout Log, Coconut Power Oatmeal Recipe, and Pedometer Giveaway


As part of Children's Claritin Mom Crew, I am able to bring you tips and recipes to make your life easier.  Check out for more helpful tips and advice related to your family's allergies. 

Has exercise been part of your New Year's resolution?  I have just the workout log for you.  Click HERE to download your very own workout log thanks to Claritin.  This log is a great way to hold you accountable, keep track of your workouts and best of all, see your progress!  This could be just the motivation you need!

Do you need more motivation to get moving????  I have TWO Pedometers to give away.  Health experts say just 10,000 steps per day will get you in better health and keep you moving.  Watching the count move up as you walk is the perfect motivation to end each day with 10,000 steps.  All you have to do is fill out the form below!

Starting your day with a healthy breakfast is another great way to kick start your metabolism!  This oatmeal will fill you up and keep you going until lunch!

Coconut Power Oatmeal
This warm bowl of comfort is a great way to start a winter's day!
(Makes 6 servings)

  • 3 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla soy or almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, cherries or blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 4 tablespoons honey (optional)
Directions: Bring the milk and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the oats, maple syrup, raisins, and dried berries. Return to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in almonds and coconut, and let stand until it reaches your desired thickness. Transfer to individual serving bowls and top with honey, if desired.


Contest runs through Sunday, February 10, 2013.  Two winners will be chosen Monday, February 11, 2013, using and pedometers will be mailed out by me. Winners will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be chosen.  This contest is open to US residents only.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review: Saving Each Other by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy

A Mystery Illness
A Search for a Cure
A Mother Daughter Love Story

By Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy

Published:  October 16, 2012

On the surface, Victoria Jackson is the American Dream personified: from a troubled childhood and unfinished high school education she overcame immeasurable odds to create a cosmetics empire valued at more than half a billion dollars. Married to Bill Guthy—self-made principal of infomercial marketing giant Guthy-Renker—Victoria’s most treasured role was mother to three beautiful, beloved children, Evan, Ali, and Jackson.

Suddenly, Victoria’s dream life is broken as she begins to battle a mother’s greatest fear. In 2008, her daughter, Ali, began experiencing unusual symptoms of blurred vision and an ache in her eye. Her test results led to the diagnosis of a disease so rare, the chance that she had it was only 2%. Neuromyeltis Optica (NMO) is a little understood, incurable, and often fatal autoimmune disease that can cause blindness, paralysis, and life-threatening seizures, and afflicts as few as 20,000 people in the world. At the age of 14, Ali was given a terrifying prognosis of between four to six years to live.

Saving Each Other begins just as Victoria and Bill learn of Ali’s disease, starting them on a powerful journey to save Ali, their only daughter, including bringing together a team of more than fifty of the world’s leading experts in autoimmune and NMO-related diseases to create the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation.

Told in alternating viewpoints, Victoria and Ali narrate their very different journeys of coming to terms with the lack of control that neither mother nor daughter have over NMO, and their pioneering efforts and courage to take their fight to a global level.

Bringing their story to light with raw emotion, humor, warmth, and refreshing candor, SAVING EACH OTHER is the extraordinary journey of a mother and daughter who demonstrate how the power of love can transcend our greatest fears, while at the same time battling to find a cure for the incurable.

As a mom, I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book.  Then again, as a mom, I needed to read this book.  A mother's greatest fear is something happening to their children.  You pray for a healthy baby and when you are blessed with one, you think all your worries are over until, your baby becomes a toddler, then goes off to school and then college, etc.  As a mother you are always going to worry about your children, forever.  At each stage, you think you have made it and then BAM! there you are in another stage with a whole new set of worries.  

Victoria Jackson was the Mother of all Worriers.  According to her daughter Ali, "she had the worry bases covered.  Not just the bases - she had the bleachers, the dugout, and the entire field covered."  Victoria Jackson has worked hard her whole life for everything she has.  She started at the bottom and has since become a powerhouse in the cosmetic and infomercial industry.  But, beyond all those successes, the only ones she truly cared about were her three children.  That much I can tell from this book.  As a mother, I identified with her drive, her worry, her fear, and her determination to "fix" this disease.  

This book chronicles Victoria's fight against the disease and Ali's struggles with maintaining her life as a high school student and athlete as well as fighting a disease she doesn't even know she has until she agrees to hear the name.  You follow them along to doctor appointments, tennis matches, weekend getaways, as well as their inner most thoughts.  This story shares the good and the bad with the reader and shows how to you can make it through the worst of it. 

Because of the Jackson-Guthy fortune, they were able to really make leaps and bounds when it comes to research and finding the best doctors for Ali.  Nowhere in the book was insurance mentioned.  Nowhere in the book did Victoria mention having to struggle with their insurance company with whether or not a procedure or drug would be covered.  If they wanted to receive care from a doctor, they went to see him/her.  If they wanted a nurse to come to their home to give treatment at all hours of the day, she did.  To me, this isn't the norm.  Because of their financial status, Ali's treatment was different from what most patients receive in this country.  I wish that wasn't the case and frankly, so does Victoria Jackson.  Something must be done with our health care system.  But, for Victoria, at first this was about saving her daughter.  Then it became saving the many other families suffering with NMO. 

Ali is an amazing young woman.  She is wise beyond her years and even though much of her life has been privileged, she has had more struggles that any of us would bear to handle.  Throughout all of this, her positive attitude was inspiring.  Even though she struggled with excruciating pain, she always found the silver lining, like when looking at their "Connect the Docs" map and pointing out that at least having NMO has helped her knowledge of world geography.  Ali is a bright light in her family, I am sure.

Even though this book is sad and a bit self-indulgent at times, I think you will find it inspiring and heart felt.  All proceeds from this book directly support scientific and clinical research for NMO.

For more on the foundation, you can find them at or  Watch the video below of Victoria and Ali on THE ELLEN SHOW telling their story.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Thanks to FSB Associates for sending me a copying of this book for review.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  boo

Monday, January 21, 2013

Apothederm Winner

The winner of the Apothederm Acne Clarifying Treatment is.........................................

True Random Number Generator  1Powered by RANDOM.ORG


I will send you an email and you will have 48 hours to contact me otherwise I will choose a new winner.  Thanks to all for entering!

A Little Monday Inspiration

Inaction breeds doubt and fear.  Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.

Dale Carnegie, author and lecturer

What are you afraid to do? Is there a goal you are hesitant to work on?  Sitting at home or work wishing you could start isn't going to get you any closer to that goal.  Take a step forward today and start achieving your dreams!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

One Thousand of My Gifts

photo courtesy of Ann Voskamp at
Continuing my count of One Thousand Gifts, numbering each one.

1000 Gifts

16. Warm blackberry cobbler with ice cream
17. Ending the day with a glass of red wine
18. Forgotten money arriving in the mail
19. Getting dressed up for a night out

Friday, January 18, 2013

Scenes From Our Weeks

I haven't posted any photos of our life in awhile...putting them mainly on Facebook or Instagram (which you can see my feed below on the right).  So, here are some snippets from our life over the last couple months.

Bennett had one of the lead roles in their annual musical at school, playing Mr. Crabby. He nailed it! Who knew he could be so crabby when he has a permanent smile on his face!

Bennett played some basketball - seen here taking a shot!

Reagan played some basketball and will again in the next couple months.

We decorated our annual gingerbread house.

We celebrated Christmas!

Then the new year arrived with Patrick playing basketball, 

and Reagan's 8th birthday.  

The rest of the winter looks to keep us running with honor bands, more basketball, show choir competitions, and anything else we can throw in there.  But, I love it all and can't wait to share all of it with Pat and the kids.  

On a side note, we have shared some "classic" movies with the kids over the last few months....WAYNE'S WORLD, WAYNE'S WORLD 2, and THE PRINCESS BRIDE.  Pat hadn't even seen THE PRINCESS BRIDE.  It was fun sharing those movies with them and even better when they loved them all.  I need to find more of those "classics" that we can watch as a family!  What are some of your family's favorite classics?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book Review: My Journey As A Combat Medic By Patrick Thibeault


By:  Patrick Thibeault

Published:  July 24, 2012


My Journey as a Combat Medic is a no-holds-barred look at the modern medic in the US Army, allowing us a glimpse at the training as a soldier and as a specialist, as well as deployment and front line duties and the impact of service on civilian life, including an honest look at PTSD, from the author's own personal experience. Rather than a technical manual, My Journey as a Combat Medic is a detailed firsthand account, concluding with a letter to new medics, providing a career's worth of advice and knowledge as they begin their journeys. This book is about the soldiers who bring compassion and humanity to the battlefield.

I'm reading this as part of a book tour with Virtual Author Book Tours.  I read this as an eBook on my Kindle.  

Patrick Thibeault has dedicated his life to serving others both as a soldier and as a nurse practitioner.  There was no doubt as I read this book, that he has a deep commitment towards the health and welfare of others.  Whether the patient was on the battlefield, an enemy, someone in his barracks, or back here in the states in a hospital, they received the best care possible from Thibeault.  

I think this is a great book for someone who can identify with being a soldier, a medic, or someone who has been in the military.  It may read a little dry for the "outsider".  The author tells stories of his time both in Desert Storm and Afghanistan and shares his private thoughts and moments with the reader.  This isn't the type of book that tells of the horrors of the battlefields, but at appropriate times, he does share stories of those he saved and couldn't save.  

Thibeault has since retired from the military and joined the civilian life as a nurse practitioner.  He shares his personal struggles with PTSD and again, it reminds me of how little the military does to prepare soldiers for the return home compared to the amount of training they receive to go to war.  Whether I am reading non-fiction or fiction, this seems to be a central theme.  His descriptions of uncomfortable situations that he has been in will make me much more aware of those who may be suffering from PTSD that I may come across.

If you know a young man or woman looking to enter the military and/or looking to be a medic, this book would be an excellent introduction to their career choice.  Thibeault closes the book with a letter to any future medics with recommendations and advice from his 20 years in the service.

I think this book paints an accurate picture of military life both on the battlefield and in the barracks.  He doesn't hold back with his opinions of how certain things were done or not done.  My favorite part of the book were the photos that he included.  The photos gave the book a personal touch and brought some of his stories to life.  

Thibeault gives the reader an honest look inside the life of a combat medic, one that needs to be heard.

Patrick Thibeault was raised as an Army brat. He lived in Germany, Fort Devens, Massachusetts, Fayetteville, North Carolina and his father was stationed in Seoul, South Korea where he attended Seoul American High School and graduated in 1989. During his time in Korea, Patrick watched several of the Olympic games in person as they were in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. He grew to respect and understand the different cultures he encountered.

Upon graduation from high school, Patrick enlisted in the Army becoming a paratrooper medic. The first unit that he was assigned to was the elite 3rd Battalion / 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). Patrick deployed to Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm back in 1990. During his tenure with the 160th, Patrick had the opportunity to grow both as a soldier and as a medic. He attended SERE school (Survival training), went to Army enlisted flight medic school at Fort Rucker, and attended Primary Leadership training at Fort Stewart, Georgia among other types of military training. He deployed both stateside and overseas with the 160th and even spent some time on the USS. Theodore Roosevelt. During his time with the 160th, he was on both on enlisted crewmember flight status and parachute status.
He then joined the Kentucky Army National Guard. Patrick deployed twice to Ecuador during his time with the Kentucky Army National Guard. He continued to grow in the medical field and nursing field and started nursing school at Eastern Kentucky University. Patrick's first job as a nurse was as a registered nurse in Indianapolis,Indiana. Patrick transferred to the Indiana Army National Guard where in 2000, his entire brigade travelled to Fort Polk, Louisiana to participate in the combat simulations at the Joint Readiness Training Center or JRTC.

He graduated with his bachelor's degree in nursing in May 2003 from Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2004, he deployed with his unit, the 76th Infantry Brigade in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His unit was part of Task Force Phoenix. This task force trained the conventional Afghanistan Army and had soldiers embedded into these Afghanistan units both during training and combat operations. Patrick worked briefly as a liaison for Task Force Phoenix at Bagram Airbase before going back out into the deserts of Afghanistan to serve as a medic.

Patrick started on his master's degree to become a Family Nurse Practitioner upon returning from combat in 2005. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in December, 2008. Patrick then transferred to the 138th Field Artillery Brigade, part of the Kentucky Army National Guard, where he remained till he retired in January, 2011. Patrick currently works part time in a medical intensive care unit part time as a registered nurse and works full time in a urgent and primary care clinic as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

Hobbies include Corvettes,writting poetry, working out, Star Trek, and reading medical books. He is married to his wife Connie. They have a dog named Rocco and two cats named Savannah and Georgia. He named his cats after the beautiful city of Savannah and the other cat after the state of Georgia when he was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, in Savannah,Georgia.

His awards and decorations include the Combat Medical Badge, 2nd award from both Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom. The Meritorious Service Medical from Afghanistan, the Air Medal from Desert Storm. Patrick also has earned the Expert Field Medical Badge, parachute wings, and the enlisted crewmember aviation wings.

Currently Patrick is working on a book of combat medic poetry, a book about working as a nurse and a nurse practitioner from the perspective of a man and a fictional book about a time travelling medical provider who gets stuck in the past while trying to learn medicine and nursing and working on his website at

I received this book for free as part of the Virtual Book Author Tour in order to complete this review.  I did not receive any other compensation for this review.  This review is my honest opinion.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Spotlight: Become the Confident Mom You've Always Wanted to Be By Susan Heid


31 Strategies to Improve Your Confidence as a Woman, Mother, and Family Manager

By:  Susan Heid

Published:  January 3, 2013

How many times have you felt something is lacking in your family life? You just can’t keep up with the daily demands of managing a household, your priorities aren’t on target, you never have time for yourself, and you wonder why you can’t be more like the “super mom” next door that always seems to have her act together. You’re feeling “less than,” and it’s negatively impacting your family.

Being a mom and family manager is a difficult and demanding job—one that often leaves moms questioning their decisions and abilities, ultimately lowering their self-confidence. But one must lead with confidence to earn respect and ensure that family values are not compromised by the many distractions a family might confront. 

In her book, Become the Confident Mom You’ve Always Wanted to Be: 31 Strategies to Improve Your Confidence as a Woman, Mother, and Family Manager, author and parent coach Susan Heid explains how using these 31 essential strategies can help you guide your family with love, faith, a positive outlook, and confidence. This will help you achieve a more fulfilling family atmosphere and prepare your children to positively maneuver through life’s many opportunities and challenges.

As you journey through the 31 strategies, you’ll discover:

* Why it’s important to develop a plan or vision for your family and how that plan, alongside your established priorities, can direct you down the path you desire as you encounter new choices each day. 
* Why you need to tune in to your “motherly gifts” of intuition and wisdom.
* How your wellness plan can boost your confidence.
* Why you should “dress the part.”
* Why it’s important to have a routine, and how to be adaptable when necessary by planning for the unexpected.
* Why courage and humor should be in your arsenal of parenting tools.
* How to make sure your child receives your love.
* Why parenting should not be viewed as a competition.
* Why you should recognize your strengths and admit your weaknesses.
* Why you should get “plugged in” to God each day.
* What expectations do for your child.
* Why friendships with other moms should be a priority.
* And much more!

Become the Confident Mom You’ve Always Wanted to Be: 31 Strategies to Improve Your Confidence as a Woman, Mother, and Family Manager can help moms build positive family relationships through confident leadership and goal-focused decisions based on Christian values, consequently “making a difference” in their children’s lives. Utilize these 31 strategies today to stop feeling “less than” and become the best woman, mother, and family manager you can be!

I don't know about you, but this above description really speaks to me as a mom and wife.  I am constantly comparing myself to other moms...especially after spending time on Pinterest....I tend to feel like an inadequate mom.  Then I have to remember all the things that I am good at.   

I have been a huge fan of Susan Heid and her website The Confident Mom for quite a while.  I've praised her planners and summer calendars.  I love getting her newsletters every week in my email.  They are usually just the inspiration and boost I need.

Sale runs from January 14 - 17, 2013
I haven't had a chance to read this book yet, but I will be getting my copy today just like the rest of you should!  It will be available for only $.99 through January 17, 2013.  I have no doubt this will be an excellent book full of inspiration, practical tips, and positive reinforcement.  Just what every mother needs.  This book is available for your Kindle or as an ebook document.  After Thursday, it will retail at $2.99.  Still an excellent price for a book so full of tips.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

One Thousand of My Gifts

photo courtesy of
Continuing my count of One Thousand Gifts, numbering each one.

1000 Gifts

9. Getting back on the treadmill after holiday eating
10. Downton Abbey Season 3 starting
11. Watching Patrick play his first middle school basketball game
12. Birthdays
13. A clean house
14. Giggling girls
15. Answered prayers

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Last Day to Get Motivated Moms at a Discount

If you missed my post on the Motivated Moms Planner and App, check it out HERE.

Today is the LAST DAY to get the eBook at the discounted price!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Product Review and Giveaway: Apothederm Acne Clarifying Treatment


I am back with another great product from Apothederm.  If you remember, I reviewed and loved the Apothederm Stretch Mark Cream just over a year ago.  See it HERE. I still get quite a few hits and questions regarding that product review.   

Apothederm sent me their Acne Clarifying Treatment to try out and I have been using it since just after Christmas.  It seems that after turning 40 just a few months ago, my skin has already started changing.  I have been having quite a few breakouts of acne, nearly one or two a week, which isn't something I am used to.  I have no idea if turning 40 has anything to do with it or if my hormones are out of whack, but this product came at a great time for me.  Especially during the holidays when I was getting less sleep and eating heavier foods, I noticed an increase in blemishes.  

This product is a power packed acne treatment that helps to reduce the appearance of blemishes.  Dual acne prevention ingredients, Oligopeptide-10 and Salicylic Acid, work together to target existing blemishes and help prevent future breakouts.  Glycerin provides hydration to skin without stripping moisture, leaving skin soft to the touch.  
  • Exfloites dead skin cells and cleans up sebum (oily secretions)
  • Minimizes pore size
  • Helps clear breakouts and prevents future breakouts
  • Effective but gentle for all over facial use
Apothederm Acne Clarifying Treatment comes in a 1 ounce pump bottle.  It retails for $32.50.  To view before and after photos, check out their website, HERE.
I used the Acne Clarifying Treatment whenever I had a breakout, which was often.  I would apply it after washing my face and before I applied any other products like moisturizer.  I applied as needed throughout the day, but most of the time, one application took care of it.  The product is a clear, gel like formula and applies easily.  I did not notice any excessive drying, burning, or stinging after the application.  I only used the product on the actual blemishes, but I could see it being used all over the face as a prevention.  

For me, the only down-side was the scent of the product.  Even though it states it is fragrance free, there is a scent to it.  I assume it is just the scent of the ingredients, but it was a slight turn off for me.  I am sensitive to different odors and this was one I didn't care for, but it didn't keep me from using the product.  I am anxious to use this product in the summer when I tend to be more oily. Overall, I was quite happy with the performance and what it did for my skin:
  1. Reduced the size and longevity of the blemish
  2. Kept skin around the blemish smooth
  3. No over drying of skin due to use
  4. Stopped new blemishes from appearing in same area where product was applied.
If you are also suffering from excessive blemishes and would like to try it yourself, I have two ways for you to do that.  First of all you can enter my giveaway for one Apothederm Acne Clarifying Treatment and then if you just can't wait, you can go to their website and enter a code 35OFF for 35% off the product at  The discount code expires on January 31, 2013.  

To enter the giveaway, fill out the form below.  Entries accepted through Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 11:59 PM.  I will chose a winner using on Monday, January 21, 2013.  I will contact the winner via email and the winner will have 48 hours to respond or I will choose a new winner.  The product will be shipped to the winner by the company.  US residents only are eligible to win.  One entry per person please.

I was supplied with one full size product in order to complete this review.  This review is my honest opinion and I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  I will only review products that will benefit me or my family.  Thanks to Apothederm for sending the product and providing one for the giveaway.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book Review: Smart Chefs Stay Slim by Allison Adato

Lessons in Eating and Living from America's Best Chefs

By: Allison Adato
Forward by Art Smith

Published:  December 31, 2012


Chefs are around delicious, tempting food all day. So how do they manage to look good while eating so well? When People magazine editor Allison Adato found covering the restaurant world was taking a toll on her own waistline, she turned to top chefs for their secrets.  Here, more than three dozen greats like Eric Ripert, Thomas Keller, Rick Bayless, Tom Colicchio, and Michelle Bernstein reveal how to:
  • Always enjoy the food you love
  • Choose big flavors for maximum pleasure
  • Read a restaurant menu and indulge the way smart chefs do
  • Cook the easy, satisfying meals that pros prepare at home
  • Use lemon, salt, and olive oil to make almost any dish terrific
  • End your day with a square of chocolate
You don’t have to cook like a four-star chef to eat like one! Like so many Americans, celebrity chefs also face the strain of balancing a good diet with a busy lifestyle. Now they share their own smart tips, scrumptious recipes and personal stories of losing over 100 pounds, of taking off baby weight and eating with kids, and of celebrating a love for food without sacrificing health—all while indulging an appetite for life.

Are you looking for realistic tips for eating healthy?  Are you curious how chefs and others in the food industry stay slim when around food all day?  This book will show you how the pros prioritize and plan, yet still enjoy the food they prepare and eat what they love.

This  book was a great reminder to basically eat what you love.  No matter what chef was interviewed, each one of them basically said you should eat and not restrict moderation.  Who can go without chocolate or ice cream or pizza or pasta for the rest of their life?  Well, not me, but I have learned that I don't need a huge bowl of ice cream, but instead a small serving will give me the same satisfaction with less calories and guilt.  The chefs agreed that you should still enjoy the foods you love without depriving yourself.

Something that I learned from the book was Lesson #26 - Salt Your Food.  I didn't realize the role salt plays in almost every food we eat.  Not just salt, either, but pepper.  Seasoning our food brings out the flavor and can make or break a dish.  I have been more aware of this in my cooking and making sure that salt is not the forgotten ingredient.

I also appreciated that the topic of alcohol was mentioned.  I am someone who likes to have a glass of wine while cooking and/or with our dinner...once in awhile.  A tip that I have discovered when attending parties and was happy to also see mentioned in the book is drinking one glass of water for every drink of wine (or other beverage).  It helps you stay hydrated and not feel sick or have a headache in the morning!

For most of the chefs, working out was a priority.  Due to the numerous tastings they do each day, the amount of calories consumed is very high.  Exercise has to be a priority in order to maintain their weight and yet enjoy regular meals with family.   French chef, Eric Ripert, makes it a priority to walk EVERY matter what.  He walks to work, a distance of two miles, every day, no matter the weather. 

As a parent, I have read numerous times the importance of eating with your children.  Having family dinners around the table have been shown to improve health and self-esteem of children.  So, it was no surprise that the chefs also make it a priority to eat together as a family.  Even if the chef doesn't eat the meal because they had eaten at the restaurant, they still sit down together and enjoy the family conversation.  Again, it is about making time for what is important and I was happy to hear that with their busy schedules, even they could find time to have meals together.  

The book is also full of recipes right from the chefs, including dishes served in their restaurants and their homes.  I am very anxious to try Karen Hatfield's Apple Galette.  It sounds simple to create and yet, is special and delicious.

This is a great book if you want to learn more about chefs and how they handle the pressures of working around food all day.  A lot of their tips were ones that we can all use in our own lives.  Mario Batali said it best, "That's the beauty of life: eating a good meal, having a couple bottles of wine with friends, and laughing and being happy."     

Allison Adato
Alison Adato is a senior editor at People and an award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine,, LIFE, and other national publications.  She lives in Manhattan with her family.  

For more about Adato or the book, SMART CHEFS STAY SLIM visit
Follow Adato on Twitter, HERE.
Like Smart Chefs Stay Slim on Facebook, HERE.
Click below to purchase the book from Amazon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Schools Should...

The website has a feature called The Blog Dare or writing prompts for your blog.  Today's post prompt instantly reminded me of something I have been wanting to write about on here anyway.

Schools should......

Schools should......not worry so much about what kids eat or don't eat and focus instead on their education. With that said, I know it isn't that easy.  Our district has a large number of families on free and reduced lunches which means, this may be the only "good" meal a child gets during the day.  I get that.  But, unfortunately, with our new school food regulations put forth by President Obama, there is a lot of grumpy, hungry kids.

Schools are required to meet a certain guideline of calories and nutritional requirements.  Unfortunately, that is difficult to do with a limited school food/nutrition budget.  My children have frequently come home from school hungry and frustrated.  Yesterday, one of the sides was sauerkraut.  How many of you ate sauerkraut when you were a kid?  I like it now, but certainly not when I was in 2nd grade or 6th grade and I have good eaters.  I am willing to bet that a great majority of sauerkraut was thrown away yesterday.  Is that a good use of my tax payer dollars?  The school often serves cooked spinach or pinto beans.  How often did I eat those as a kid? Nope, not again.  I have been in school and eaten lunch on days that these items were being served and I couldn't eat them.

I run an after school program at our church once a week.  We serve kids a snack and in the beginning when we started 5 years ago, we would serve goldfish crackers, apples, and maybe a cookie and juice.  Or pretzels, fruit and cheese and juice.  Since the new lunch program has been in place, we have noticed that kids are coming to our program....starving! Never before did we hear, "I'm hungry." Can I have seconds, thirds, fourths?  We have changed our snack to actually be a meal.  Lunch meat sandwich, fruit, cheese, and juice.  Grilled cheese, fruit, juice.  Pizza, fruit, juice, cookie.  Even with this meal, the kids are wanting more.  I can speak to this in my own home as kids come home hungry.

I don't know what the answer is, but what I do know is that I am not sure it is the schools job to count calories.  Make food the kids will eat.  Encourage them to try new foods by exposing them on a daily basis to fruit and vegetables.  And then, let the parents take over.  There is only so much you can do 180 days of the year.

I realize I may get flack for this post, but this is just MY OPINION.  As an employee of a school district, I am well aware of the difficulties of balancing all the needs of a student...physical, emotional, educational, and personal.  Schools are being asked to provide more and more services with less and less money.  The balancing act isn't easy and continues to get harder when the government likes to stick their nose into it.  My beef here is with all the government red tape, and not our school.  I know they are doing the best they can with the resources they have.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Author Interview with H.W. "Buzz" Bernard

I am so excited to bring you my first author interview!  I am thrilled to introduce you to H.W. "Buzz" Bernard, author and retired meteorologist.  This interview is part of his Blog Tour for his new thriller, PLAGUE, sponsored by I first found out about Buzz after reading his debut novel, EYEWALL.  Check out my review, HERE from July of 2011.  EYEWALL even made my list of Top Ten Reads of 2011!

H.W. "Buzz" Bernard
Photo Courtesy of
H. W. “Buzz” Bernard is a writer and retired meteorologist.  His debut novel, EYEWALL, which one reviewer called a “perfect summer read,” was released in May 2011 and went on to become a best-seller in Amazon’s Kindle Store. His second novel, PLAGUE, came out in September 2012. He’s currently at work on his third novel, SUPERCELL.

Before retiring, Buzz worked at The Weather Channel in Atlanta, Georgia, as a senior meteorologist for 13 years.  Prior to that, he served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force for over three decades.  He attained the rank of colonel and received, among other awards, the Legion of Merit. His “airborne” experiences include a mission with the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters, air drops over the Arctic Ocean and Turkey, and a stint as a weather officer aboard a Tactical Air Command airborne command post (C-135).

In the past, he’s provided field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope, and served two tours in Vietnam.  Various other jobs, both civilian and military, have taken him to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Panama.

He’s a native Oregonian and attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science; he also studied creative writing.

He and his wife Christina live in Roswell, Georgia, along with their fuzzy and sometimes overactive Shih-Tzu, Stormy.

I would like to introduce you to Buzz and I hope you find him as fascinating as I do!


Q: I remember from your author bio that you were a weatherman by trade and training.  At what point did you decide to become an author?  Was it something that had always been in the back of your mind--like writing short stories in high school/college--or has it been a relatively new idea to fill up idle time in retirement?

A: I knew from the time I was about 8 years old I wanted to be a meteorologist.  But I also realized at a very early age I had a talent for writing.  I wrote short stories in high school--to some minor acclaim-- was sports editor for the school newspaper, and took creative writing courses in college.

I wrote 5 nonfiction books--about weather and climate, of course--between 1979 and 1993.

But it wasn’t until I reached my late 50's that I decided to venture into writing novels.  I discovered making stuff up was a lot easier and a heck of a lot more fun than slogging through reams of data and stacks of research papers to crank out nonfiction.

Oh, and the idea of idle time in retirement is pretty much a myth.  At least it seems that way to me.  On the other hand, I’m probably not really retired.  I’ve pretty much had to give up golf in favor of writing.

Q: Your first novel, EYEWALL, was what one might call a meteorological thriller.  Right up your alley.  But PLAGUE is about bioterrorism.  So it would seem to me you stepped out of your comfort zone to write it.  Was it more challenging to do than EYEWALL?

A: Quite a bit.  All of my novels are based on fact.  As a novelist, I push the factual bases to their limits, but I still want my stories to fall within the realms of possibility.  I always tell my readers that Yes, something like what I wrote could occur, but it’s extremely improbable.

Anyhow, PLAGUE did require a good deal of research.  Thank God for the Internet and the sites of the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] and the WHO [World Health Organization].  I also read about half a dozen books on the subjects of Ebola and bioterrorism.

Q: Whatever possessed you to write about Ebola and bioterrorism?

A: Ironically, I was inspired by a nonfiction book, Richard Preston’s HOT ZONE, a best seller in the mid-1990s.  I became fascinated by the Ebola virus and scared to death by the thought there might be an airborne version of it.  Novelists, naturally, love things that scare folks.  So, I began thinking about how I could craft all of this into a scary novel.

Q: How long did it take to write PLAGUE?

A: A long time actually.  I began writing it in 2003, put it away for awhile to work on EYEWALL, then revived it in 2010.  The final version is the product of about 5 rewrites.  [PAUSE]  You know, maybe I should retract my earlier statement about writing fiction being more fun than writing nonfiction.  Nah, it can be a lot of work, but still fun.

Q: I read in one of your blogs you thought PLAUGE should come with a warning label.  What was that all about?

A: It was a bit tongue-in-cheek.  Death by Ebola is excruciating, and I describe it rather graphically in a couple of scenes in the novel.  I want the reader to realize how high the stakes are in the story I spin.  Anyhow, my thought was that perhaps there should be a label on the book’s cover cautioning readers that they might not want to read certain passages immediately before, during or after eating.

Q: Robert Frost famously said, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”  Were there any surprises for you, as a writer, in PLAGUE?

A: Yes, a big one, actually.  About half way through the first draft I got kind of bored with one of the characters--I won’t tell you which one--and got to thinking: What if he or she isn’t who everyone thinks he or she is?  So I wrote that deception into the novel and it actually made the story work much better.

Q: What do you think of ebooks?  I got to know you as an author because your previous book EYEWALL was listed as a free read on a site I check regularly for my Kindle.  When I read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read it.  But, it is likely I may not have noticed it if it wasn't for the free ebook promotion.  Do those promotions really boost your readership?

A: Absolutely, at least in the past.  The rise of ebooks and sites like Amazon have leveled the playing field for authors like myself who aren’t with big New York publishing houses and who don’t have huge PR/marketing budgets at their disposal.  My publisher, BelleBooks, is extremely savvy when it comes to the rapidly changing landscape of book marketing.  With EYEWALL they knew a freebie promotion would be the key to jumpstarting sales.

Ironically, the landscape is changing so rapidly that giveaways and discount promos no longer work that well.  So, for PLAGUE, BelleBooks is relying on special promotions generated directly by the big book outlets, like Amazon.  But that means we have to wait for the novel to be selected, as opposed to initiating promos ourselves.  The entire process is slower, but, we hope, more rewarding in the end.

Q: What has been the best part for you about being a published author?  Is it seeing your book on Amazon or in a bookstore?  Is it being recognized by fans?  Is it the extra padding in your retirement income?  Or something else entirely?

A: I think the answer is Something else entirely.  There was a point in my writing career, at least during my attempt to become a novelist, when I thought I would never get published.  I gave up dreams of fame and fortune.  I just wanted to prove I could be a commercially published novelist.  It became a challenge, almost an obsession.  When I finally saw EYEWALL in print, it was almost anti-climatic--I was pretty much drained emotionally.  But I did feel I’d proved something, that I’d won a battle, beaten the odds.

Q: So what’s next and when will we see it?

A: I’m going back to my roots, I’d guess you’d say.  I’m currently working on a novel, SUPERCELL, set against a background of tornado chasing on the Great Plains. My plan, assuming my publisher likes the book, is to release it in conjunction with the start of the 2014 tornado season.

Thanks to Buzz for his time in answering these questions and now for all the information on his new book, PLAGUE.

By: H.W. "Buzz" Bernard
Published:  September 4, 2012

Deep in the secret recesses of a Cold War lab, the Russians created tons of deadly bio-weapons.  Now, decades later, a protege of that Russian research is about to release weaponized Ebola into the heart of the South's most iconic city: Atlanta, where the symbols of American "decadence" range from a happily diverse population to the Coca-Cola museum and CNN headquarters.
A preliminary test of the horrifying virus demonstrates the unspeakable suffering of its victims--and alerts the Centers for Disease Control that a terrible pandemic is in the making.  CDC Virologist Dr. Dwight Butler begins a frantic effort to track down the source of the virus before it's too late.
For new BioDawn CEO Richard Wainwright, it quickly becomes clear that the "accidental" plane crash that killed the pharmaceutical company's entire executive hierarchy may have some connection to the evolving threat.  Suddenly, Richard is being stalked by a hit woman.  He and Butler join forces to find the lone terrorist at the center of a plan that could unleash the Black Plague of the 21st century.

To connect with H.W. "Buzz" Bernard:

To purchase PLAGUE, click the photo below: